Book List

A list of books I’ve read over the years, some with notes and mini-reviews attached.

Inspired by the book-lists of Jordan Ellenberg and David Carlton and Cosma Shalizi

Standard disclaimer: If I make a normative statement like “The book is X”, please consider this shorthand for “The book felt X to me/I felt X’ed while reading the book”.  Also, “(unfinished)” doesn’t mean a book was bad, it just means that i haven’t finished reading it for some reason. Date of reading may be very wrong.



Poldark 2023 reread
Thanks to Siderea it is now also clear why I like these books – Ross and Demelza care and dare for their people. They are also shockingly good at articulating and communicating their emotions to each other, damn.

Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk. (unfinished)
Someone on twitter said this book would be funny… a few chapters in, not so far is all I can say.

Absent in the Spring, Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott.
Christie is actually one of my favourite romance writers. This book is very fun – its one of those ‘author gets hit by a stroke of lightning and finishes writing the entire book in three days of frenzied scribbling’ ones. There’s a quote that goes “All man’s problems stem from his inability to sit quietly alone in a room with his thoughts” The book is about a woman who is like this: her entire life she’s been avoiding consideration of the fact that her self-perception is very very different from how people around her see her. One day she’s stranded alone with her thoughts for a week and is forced to confront the fact that she’s actually a terrible person. The ending is pretty bleak, but to be expected from the author who wrote:
“The tragedy of life is that people change.
“No, the tragedy of life is that people do not change.”


Welcome to Temptation, Jennifer Crusie. (unfinished) I picked this up because Bujold mentioned she’s a fan of Crusie – which I now find a bit surprising. Seems fairly standard formulaic romance. Maybe there’s a twist coming but it didnt feel like it. Interesting to see what (a particular form of) the female gaze is like.

Big Swiss, Jen Beagin. A romantic comedy about a woman who works as a transcriptionist for a therapist and falls in love with one of his clients after listening to tapes of her sessions. It was fun, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I’d ever experienced a milieu like Hudson, New York. Felt a bit self-consciously literary.

The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi. Fun, but I’m still confused about how many levels of simulation are going on. The cryptography-IRL truly private society was really fun worldbuilding.

The Jaeger Case + EEOC Complaint.
Jaeger was a professor who got me too-ed back in 2015(?). i was first introduced to the story via the EEOC complaint his accusers made, which I took at face value. What particularly shocked me was the story about him calling up the committee that gave him and a student of his a joint award to badmouth the student and demand sole credit. Turns out people just lie. or more specifically (i speculate) interpret and twist gossip they’ve vaguely heard in a maximally-self-serving way without adding epistemic caveats, even in legal documents. Emails showed that the truth was literally the exact opposite: the committee originally gave only Jaeger the award, and he wrote back to mention half the work was done by a student. Of course, the emails could be fake, but it was a good lesson in the dangers of forming opinions based on hearing only one side of a story.

Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, Clarisse Thorn (unfinished). I only read the intro story, idk how i feel beyond a vague sense of distaste and “you are solving the wrong problem with the wrong methods and all your errors have failed to cancel out” about everyone involved.

Fourier Analysis. T W Korner. (unfinished) A classic Korner – no one else writes books at this level – somehow mixing pop sci chattiness with actual proofs of the nondifferentiability of the Weierstrass function. This is more of a real textbook than The Pleasures of Counting tho.


Types and Programming Languages, Benjamin Pierce. (unfinished) Im only a couple chapters in, seems good.

Knife Children, Bujold. Fun!

Aspiration, Agnes Callard. (unfinished) Considers a very important question: We are definitely not ze classique utility-maximising agents – most centrally, because we can and do aspire to change our values, care about things that we don’t currently care for. How is this possible? What’s going on? I don’t know yet if Callard has the answers, but this feels like the right question.

Evolvability, Alexis Gallagher. DPhil thesis.


Proofs and Refutations, Imre Lakatos. (unfinished). This was great stuff, a strong defence of the proposition (which i agree with) that mathematics is about making interesting definitions. Whether a particular proof of a particular theorem is valid doesnt really matter, just tweak everything until it works. I love the dialogue style, very entertaining.


Inda, The Fox, Kings Shield, Treasons Shore, Sherwood Smith.
This was great – where have these books been all my life? Honestly I’m really surprised they’re so obscure. Interesting to figure out where Inda stands on the autism spectrum. Tdor’s characterization of civilisation as a net – and looking at our choices in terms of whether we weave or tear it – has stuck with me.

A Matter of Oaths, Helen S Wright. Picked this up from a rec in possibly a Tor Vorkosigan readthrough comments section. Decent story but in the end somehow a bit lacking in depth and heft.


The Great Automatic Grammatizer, Roald Dahl. Unforgettable last line: “Give us the strength, O lord, to let our children starve”
Moloch comes for us all.

Planecrash aka Mad Investor Chaos.
Hahaha how do i review this? Yudkowsky going full Yud. I particularly liked the interactions between the Gods. Peranza of Civilisation brought me to tears – especially accompanied by the chapter music. Also introduced me to Landsailor which is a fantastic song.
I still don’t get the optimal decision theorists would rather destroy the universe than give to a threat thing.

Dune Messiah (unfinished)
only got a couple chapters in and it wasnt reading holding my attention so i stopped

Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood. I found this a slog. Maybe i just don’t like didactic dystopias.


The Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg. I learned a lot of useful things from this book. Need to consider more deeply the idea of transaction costs and legibility ruling everything. And the issue where one market is worse than zero markets is worse than two markets.


Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz.
A bit unsettling.

New Moon, Stephanie Meyer. I think i must have been trying to read this for twilight/SSC book club. incredible slog, very difficult to get into. The strange part is i remember quite enjoying one of her other books – The Host – about bodysnatchers

When True Night Falls, Celia S Friedman. Nice books but I just don’t like reading horror, I don’t find it pleasant at all.

Black Sun Rising, Celia S Friedman. Sure has great imagery, the rakh, the tidal fae, the world alive and responding to your will.


Visual Differential Geometry and Forms, Tristan Needham. Very fun, but a lot of material so its slow going.

The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk. This was spectacular. I was not expecting the ending at all. Someone I know once said something like “America works even though it’s full of idiots because they manage to have the idiots follow really smart systems”. This is an exploration of those systems (here, the US Navy) and the principles they’re based on.

Becoming Trader Joe, Joe Coulombe.
turns out the secret to grocery success is regulatory arbitrage. Society if there werent so many useless regulations . jpeg
The problem is that without any regulations at all you get adulterants all over your food and everyone has to maintain constant vigilance all the time which sucks. Maybe its better to just have one government agency do all the vigilance even if they arent very good at it.


Between Silk and Cyanide, A Codemakers War, 1941-1945, Leo Marks. Oh man, what do I say? Deeply moving, heartbreaking. The poems Leo wrote to help his spies remember the codes still pass dimly through my mind. There are probably few worse feelings than knowing people you care about are going to die because of organizational politics.
In 1941 no one in cryptography knew what they were doing. Im sure its still true today, but where? What is the frontier? Ironically, is it once again crypto? Language models? as goodside shows, you can just go talk to them and learn stuff no researcher on earth knows

Starship Troopers. An extremely macho defense of the proposition “Morality is the survival instinct applied at a level greater than the individual”. I don’t really agree – we are godshatter, there are so many things we care about beyond survival, and i dont want to be a hegemonizing swarm. But looking around the modern world and the endless positional battles people get into makes me a lot more sympathetic.

The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin. (unfinished)
wasn’t really gripping me. Perhaps I will return at some point. I really wonder to what extent this kind of anarcho-socialist society can work. Someone should try it (with strong exit rights, on some island somewhere). Its really annoying that nearly all the land on earth is claimed which makes it hard to start new countries.

Rethinking Statistics, Richard McElreath. (unfinished (when do I ever finish a textbook?)). Really clear explanation of how to do science and inference from a bayesian perspective rather than the p-value horror show.

Spare, Prince Harry. (unfinished)
I dont remember why I picked this up. Only a trufan of the British monarchy would enjoy this.



Existential Kink, Carolyn Elliot. The thing that annoys me about most rah-rah style self-help is that it fails to consider why you might be doing the things you’re currently doing and what the downsides of “success” would be. This is also a failure mode of a lot of CFAR style “debugging”.
This book goes completely off the deep end in the other direction in exhilarating fashion. Invites you to consider why you actually derive great joy and stability from sabotaging your attempts to change your life, and lean into it.


Lessons in Chemistry, Bonnie Garmus. Read this for CS dept book club. Fun.


The Golden Enclaves, Naomi Novik. Fantastic end to the series. Possibly the most compelling-to-me argument for veganism I’ve come across. There’s something very deep in the metaphor for building a new enclave by dropping bricks into the void fast enough that they stick together.


Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny. I did not like this book. Are we supposed to like Corwin just because he’s the viewpoint character? He’s just a thug who goes around killing people and getting his own soldiers plus random aliens hes tricked into fighting on his side killed for no good reason. What the hell was the point?


Discrete Thoughts, Gian Carlo-Rota.
A propostion I’ve been growing increasingly sympathetic to is Ben Landau-Taylor’s “new industries come from crazy people”. A lot of the best stuff, like say Gibbon inventing modern source based history (idk how true) with Decline and Fall, comes from one person struck by the holy spirit.
Anyway Rota be crazy (compliment). Also I don’t remember what was in the book since I read it a long time ago


The Price of Tomorrow, Jeff Booth. (unfinished)


Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey. (unfinished) Interesting in parts but overall a slog.

Great Founder Theory, Samo Burja. nice third alternative to the great man vs unstoppable forces dichotomy in what decides history


Biggles Flies East, W E Johns.
Picked up thanks to philomytha talking about it. Epic fun in the desert.

Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Unset. (unfinished)
Reading books like this makes me feel an overwhelming sense of melancholy. It must have been so lonely in the Middle Ages. If you don’t really get on with any of the one hundred people you are ever going to meet in your entire life – what can you do?


A Primate’s Memoir, Robert Sapolsky. (unfinished)


Barbarian Days, William Finnegan. (unfinished)

Rewriting the Rules, Meg John Barker.


Watership Down (reread), Richard Adams. I read this (after having fond memories of it from childhood), because I wanted to read the Siderea essay about it. Boy oh boy was that a good decision. I finished it on the plane to Lisbon, and I’ve never spent three more enjoyable hours in an airplane. I had to keep stopping to breathe and soak up how much fun I was having. I don’t really have much to say that Siderea didn’t say better in her essay. I really appreciate how much depth and sense of history the interweaving of El-ahrairah myths gives to the story.


Knot of Shadows, Bujold. Fairly chill, standard Penric.

Lilith’s Brood: Dawn, Octavia Butler. I found this book strangely unenjoyable at the micro level. I’m not really sure what it was trying to say.



Probability Theory, The Logic of Science, E T Jaynes.
Chapman points out that Jaynes is straight up wrong about what a syllogism is – it is not modus ponens. Probability generalizes predicate calculus, yes, but not first order logic.

The Witness for the Dead. Katherine Addison. very strange sequel to the goblin emperor. if that was the warm blanket you wrap yourself in on a cold rainy night, this is the mournful song the raindrops sing as they drip-drip down your double-glazed window. sorrowful noir vibes

Dune, Frank Herbert (reread). I really enjoyed the ecology and the atmosphere. It’s also a really good story, and I suppose a meditation on Kingship (in the Jungian archetypal/Siderea sense)


Model Theory, David Marker.
I feel like i finally understand basic logic and the difference between syntax and semantics. Still dont understand model theory but that’s okay.

The Last Graduate, Naomi. This was also awesome. I thought Novik had written herself into a corner, but she pulls it off in grand style. One of the best middle books of a trilogy I’ve read and I’m very very excited for the third.

A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik. This was awesome. And very very easy to binge-read, in a manner strongly remniscent of fanfiction. In fact, it felt a lot like a Harry Potter fanfic, a la the Alexandra Quick series, just very very high quality. It’s very much in conversation with HP, as they say.

The Assassins of Thasalon. A little long and unwieldy but decent fun. Still only average for a Penric and Desdemona novel. A little underwhelming to be honest.


To Call the King Your Cousin, A J Hall. A pastiche of Pride and Prejudice set in the Queen of Gondal universe. I was quite impressed by the feminist redeeming of Mrs Bennett. On the micro level, this was very enjoyable – A J Hall remains one of my favourite prose stylists, but on the macro level I think it could have benefitted from an editor – it felt long and unwieldy and overstuffed.



Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir. Ahhh so much fun. Institutional-competence-porn. I really enjoyed the astro[redacted] and what a wonderful solution they are to the problem of interstellar travel. The other aliens were a bit too anthropomorphic, but who cares? Reading this book was a joy from start to finish, particularly for the kind of science nerd I am.

So You Want to Be a Wizard, Duane Diane. This book rings with a moral clarity sadly leeched out of our present world. I don’t know if I could mount the kind of rousing defence of capitalism that would be needed for a modern equivalent.


The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, Ian Rowland. I suppose I could become a cold reader and go around debooonking psychics but honestly it seems like way too much work.

100 Truths You will learn too Late, Luca DellAnna. very high quality self help. to be reread regularly

Incompleteness, Sebastian Oberhoff.

Quantum Computing Since Democritus, Scott Aaronson. (unfinished)


Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake: Winner Bakes All, Alexis Hall. Something a little trope-y about this in retrospect, though I didn’t not see the twist coming. Maybe because I don’t read many romance novels.


Algorithms, Vazirani & Papadimitriou. I finally understand linear program duality!

The Shadow of the Torturer, Gene Wolfe. Not sure how I feel about this one. I did make it to the end and it was reasonably enjoyable, but I still have no idea what the point of it all was. Incredibly atmospheric though – especially the fever dream of a duel where two men throw pieces of a poisonous plant at each other.

Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear. I learnt about the white feather movement, which was an interesting piece of UK WWI history I hadn’t come across before. (Looking it up is a mild spoiler).

Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear


A Burglar’s Guide to the City, Geoff Manaugh. (unfinished) By the author of BLDGBLOG and the famous Nakatomi space article.

The Queen of Nothing, Holly Black. There was definitely something off about this book. I still can’t figure out exactly what it is, but there’s a way in which my enjoyment of the first two books in the series has been spoilt in retrospect.

The Wicked King, Holly Black

The Cruel Prince, Holly Black. This book and its sequel were really fun to read. It’s been a while since a series gave me that particular feeling of toe-wriggling excited anticipation when you know there’s another book waiting for you and its going to be fuuuun.

Intuition, Allegra Goodman. A very interesting depiction of science and ethics. Impressively accurate for a non-scientist. I finished the book and loved it, but my ardor seems to have cooled after time and reading more negative reviews of it. Odd.



Lent, Jo Walton. (unfinished) interesting historical fiction of Renaissance Italy in a fantasy setting where the Christian hell is real. There’s something crazy about 1400s Florence. Just how did they manage to produce so much amazing art and architecture in the midst of war and plague?

All the Fishes Come Home to Roost, Rachel Manija Brown. Super fun. Hilarious and horrifying.


Hench, Natalie Zina Walschots. A superhero story. One could describe it as Worm-lite-lite. What can I say? Every superhero story I read gets compared to Worm.

Algebra Chapter 0, Paolo Aluffi. Appropriately enough, I only read Chapter 1, which was excellent.



Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit, Ashley Mears. I love undercover type books, but Mears seems to be trying to have it be both a popular book and an academic one, with citations everywhere, which doesn’t quite work. The description of how beauty works as a currency is quite depressing.

100 Truths you will Learn Too Late, Luca Dellanna. Very good. Needs frequent rereadings

Permutation City, Greg Egan.

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir. A bit too much body horror and sustained dramatic irony for me.

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir


Class: A Guide through the American Status System, Paul Fussell. Interesting info, but the part about class X was very very weird.


The Winter Ground, Catriona McPherson. Fun and light classic Golden Age mysteries. The narrator is an upper class British woman in the 1920s, ie just after the upper class was decimated by WWI, and the social constraints she operates under… are interestingly different from 2020.

Bury Her Deep, Catriona McPherson.

The Burry Man’s Day, Catriona McPherson.


The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, Zen Cho. (unfinished) I’m not really sure what I expected from this book, but at the halfway mark I felt like the story wasn’t really going anywhere and I wasn’t really enjoying it enough to keep going. I did like the very Malaysian/South East Asian feel.

The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner. Kind of like The Order…, because while reading it I kept feeling confused about whether it was worth it, because I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it was juust interesting enough that I finished it. I feel like there’s something subtly wrong with the twist in terms of story structure, as if it was written by a child.

The Phoenix Guards, Steven Brust (unfinished). I picked this up because I liked Morrolan and Sethra Lavode from the Vlad books and wanted to read more about them. Unfortunately, I found the narrative voice extremely annoying. I shall now proceed to describe the distinctive feature of the voice of the narration of the Paarfi Dragaera books. These books are, as one might have surmised from the adjective I used to modify my mention of these specific Dragaera books under our consideration, narrated by a man possessing the name Paarfi. Paarfi speaks like a 17th-century version of Perd Hapley from Parks & Rec, who thinks the dictum “Before saying something, tell them what you are going to say. Then say it. After, tell them what you have just said” applies individually to each sentence in a speech. As I have just now described, viz. via example, the salient features of Paarfi’s speech, you can begin to understand why it is that I find it so annoying.

Vlad Taltos books (Jhereg Yendi Teckla Taltos Phoenix Athyra Orca Dragon Dzur Issola Jhegaala Iorich Tiassa), Steven Brust. I tried out these books because someone on Dreamwidth said the series is much more than the sum of its parts, something that became apparent to her ten books in. Thirteen books in, I . . . don’t really see it. The individual books are nice enough but I don’t think the series is anything more than the sum of the books. Perhaps I would have found Vlad’s arc more compelling if I was able to read in chronological order, as I did with Hornblower (which was also published ‘out of order’), but Brust’s timeline-interleaving narrative tricks make that difficult.

Orca, Steven Brust. Needs a special mention for what a mindblowingly accurate depiction of the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis it is …. given that it was published in 1995.


Boyfriend Material, Alexis Hall. One could call this a novelized rom-com, but it’s a rather nice one, with great dialogue. It feels very true to the parts of modern life that make us struggle to connect with each other.

Homecoming, Cynthia Voight. A young adult novel about four kids and a Maine summer. I found this book really touching and cried at the end. I really liked the strong sense of place that comes through of summer on the north-eastern coast of the US. I actually found it quite surprising that it would be warm enough for the kids to camp outdoors and swim, but Maine summers are apparently warmer than I expected from the latitude.


The Physicians of Vilnoc (Penric 7), Lois McMaster Bujold.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Seth Dickinson. (unfinished) I found the first section of this book, which depicts a land being colonized, quite upsetting. But in a good way, I think. Although I’m from a state with a long history as a colony, I haven’t really examined how I feel about it, and how it affects the way I think about things. There’s a lot I want to eventually think and talk about re the effects of growing up with media and literature mostly focused on people and places very different from my environment, but I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet.

Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith

Lethal White, Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith. I found myself, to my surprise, enjoying these books a lot more than the first in the series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, which gave me the impression a) of being a very good crime novel, and b) that crime novels were not my genre.

Queens Play, Dorothy Dunnett.

The Game of Kings, Dorothy Dunnett.

Guerilla, Glishara. Vorkosigan fanfic. Diplomatic Immunity (ie the last time Miles really had to save the world, or else) goes ‘or else’. Everybody else dies, Ivan’s worst nightmare. While a good story on its own, I think reading this might increase the tension of Diplomatic Immunity, because Guerilla really brings home exactly what’s at stake.  


Scot Free, Catriona McPherson

Inadequate Equilibria, Eliezer Yudkowsky

Friendly Ambitious Nerd, Visakan Veerasamy.


Silas Marner, George Eliot. I had a confused impression that this was supposed to be a very boring book, which turned out to be false. I liked it a lot.

The Gervais Principle, Venkatesh Rao.

Be Slightly Evil: A Playbook for Sociopaths, Venkatesh Rao.

The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch.

False Value, Ben Aaronovitch. I wonder if Aaronovitch hangs out with rationalists. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s had a bunch of conversations about AI risk. 

The Furthest Station, Ben Aaronovitch.

The Hanging Tree, Ben Aaronovitch.

Broken Homes, Ben Aaronovitch.

Lies Sleeping, Ben Aaronovitch.

Foxglove Summer, Ben Aaronovitch.

Busman’s Honeymoon, Dorothy Sayers. A satisfying conclusion to the Wimsey-Vame quartet. As DS admits in the preface, much more romance than mystery.

All The Wrong Moves: A memoir about chess, love and ruining everything, Sasha Chapin. A delightfully written tale of a man with the kind of chess obsession you expect from thirteen year old almost-grandmasters. Gotta admire the chutzpah of somebody who publishes a memoir in their twenties (I think?)


T. Tembarom, Frances Hodgson Burnett. My review


Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee. If standard milSF is physics science fiction and Bujold is biology science fiction this might be mathematics science fiction. Or maybe math-flavoured SF.

Revenant Gun, Yoon Ha Lee.

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee.


The Last Ringbearer, Kiril Yeskov. (re-read) A great Lord of the Rings fanfic that starts from the viewpoint that LOTR is propaganda ‘written by the victors’. It tells the story of how the fledgling industrial civilisation of Mordor was deliberately crushed by the magico-barbarian complex led by Gandalf, with the aim of snuffing out a threat to their dominance of Middle Earth while it was still vulnerable. #todo better review




Self Made Man: My Year Disguised as a Man, Norah Vincent. Wow. Journalist does crazy stuff in pursuit of a book deal is my new favourite genre. More seriously, this was an amazing book. I learnt a lot of things I did not expect to learn.



The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison. What a lovely, heartwarming book. It’s like snuggling up inside a warm, cozy blanket.

Strong Poison, Dorothy L Sayers

Among Others, Jo Walton.


Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton.

Bridge of Birds, Barry Hughart. I read this because Kate Nepveu called it the only book she could think of with a lightness of style like Lust of Pendle. It was nice. I think I would have really enjoyed it as a kid?

The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion


National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, NITI Aayog #draft

Rewriting the Rules, Meg Barker (still in progess as of Aug 2020, I have a terrible pdf copy that is very annoying to read with on the phone)


Atomic Habits, James Clear #draft #summary

The Algebra of Happiness, Scott Galloway

A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine. Shades of Foundation, the Culture…

Wicked, Jilly Cooper. While a lot of fun, wow this book is long. To be read on a beach holiday. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the British class system, but things fell into place a bit too neatly towards the end.

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

The Vulnerable World Hypothesis, Nick Bostrom (paper).

The Grounding of Group 6, Julian F Thompson. I really enjoyed this book, even more than I expected, and I’m not sure why. I think the combination of the themes and the style resulted in an aesthetic that really resonates with me. #todo review


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N K Jemisin. Not quite as polished or as hard-hitting as The Broken Earth etc, but this is still a book whose imagery has stayed with me.

The Elements of Eloquence, Mark Forsyth.


Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, Suki Kim

Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover. (unfinished)

Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan.

The Queen of Gondal (series), A J Hall. Sherlock fanfiction set in a fictional country invented by the Brontë sisters. Ruritanian romance. Utterly delightful and uplifting. Free to read/download at the links

  1. The Crown Princess of Gaaldine
  2. The Castellan of the Eagles
  3. The Bishop of the Northern Marches
  4. Queen’s Gambit
  5. Dispatches from Alwentport
  6. The Curious Incident of the Knight in the Library
  7. The Master’s Mate’s Stratagem
  8. The Abbess of Norburyness
  9. The Choices of the King
  10. The Loyalties of the Courtesan
  11. Gambit Declined
  12. The Physician’s Quest
  13. By No More Storms Distrest
  14. The Guardsman’s Defence
  15. The Cock o’ the North
  16. A Stoop to a Rake
  17. The Master Courier’s Gift
  18. The Alchemist’s Snare
  19. The Prince of Elfland and the Errant Hound


Mist Over Pendle, Robert Neill. This book, of course, is where the title of Lust over Pendle comes from. The book deals with the notorious Pendle witches. It was quite a shock, later, to see references to the innocence of Agnes Nutter, after the malevolent (but quite unsupernatural) depiction she gets here.

The Kindly Ones, A J Hall. Seldom have I read a story quite as atmospheric as this one. I can imagine reading this lying on a beach on a gloriously hot day, and yet finding the sun and sea not quite as real as those of the Greek islands where The Kindly Ones is set.

Queer as Scent, A J Hall

Report of the Committe to Review the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTS) #draft

Dissipation and Despair A J Hall

Ships That Pass, Not A Whisper, Time Shall Not Mend A J Hall. More short stories set in the LOPiverse.

Lust Over Pendle, A J Hall. Draco/Neville Harry Potter fanfiction. I wonder if the form of the pseudonym A J Hall was intentionally mimicking J K Rowling?

Digital Minimalism Cal Newport.


The Flowers of Vashnoi. It feels a bit like bujold is writing fanfiction of the Vorkosigan saga. It’s a nice little story, but it feels like Bujold has different ideas from me on what to expect from a Miles and Ekaterin story. There’s a big psychological difference between a series of 5 great books, and a series of 5 great books and 5 pretty nice books.

The Language of Power Rosemary Kirstein.

The Lost Steersman Rosemary Kirstein.

The Outskirter’s Secret Rosemary Kirstein.

The Steerswoman, Rosemary Kirstein. I believe I read this based on recs in the Slatestarcodex comments. What a brilliant decision. I can’t wait for the next one (the 5th one) to come out. But base rates indicate this may take a while. However unlike the situation with GRRM types, it appears Kirstein is constrained by needing to spend time on non-writing work to pay the bills. So it might be helpful to popularise the books #todo review

The Murderbot Diaries Martha Wells x4


  • !(2019-01-26) Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
  • !(2019-01-26) Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
  • !(2019-01-26) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • !(2019-01-13) The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman



  • !(2018-12-31) Clouds of Witnesses by Dorothy Sayers
  • !(2018-12-27) Whose Body by Doroth Sayers
  • !(2018-12-09) Aral Vorkosigan’s Dog by Philomytha
  • !(2018-12-09) A Deeper Season by sahiyah and lightgetsin




  • !(2018-09-27) The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin
  • !(2018-09-16) The Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin
  • !(2018-09-16) The Fith Season by N K Jemisin
  • !(2018-09-16) The Waves Arisen (reread)



  • !(2018-07-13) My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  • !(2018-07-10) Hogfather by Terry Pratchett


Ratking, Micheal Dibdin.

The Pleasures of Counting T W Korner. What a wonderful book.


It’s very clear that I was on holiday this month. And procrastinating heavily on my summer project.

!(2018-05-30) I’ve Been Thinking by Andrew Lin

!(2018-05-29) The Will to Battle

!(2018-05-23) Crystal Eternity

!(2018-05-16) The Rules of Barrayan Sex by Philomytha

!(2018-05-16) The Return of the Ring by Avanti_90

!(2018-05-16) The Curse of Chalion Lois McMaster Bujold (reread)

!(2018-05-14) Crystal Mentality Max Harms (reread, in preparation for Eternity!)

!(2018-05-11) Mira’s Last Dance Lois McMaster Bujold

!(2018-05-11) The Prisoner of Limnos Lois McMaster Bujold

!(2018-05-09) Penric’s Demon Lois McMaster Bujold. I really like Penric and Des! Somehow these books don’t suffer from the problem I feel with the later Vorkosigan books “diluting” the series, maybe because they don’t feature Caz or Ista or any characters from the more ‘gut-punchy’ World of the FIve Gods books.

!(2018-05-09) Penric and the Shaman Lois McMaster Bujold

!(2018-05-09) Penric’s Mission Lois McMaster Bujold

!(2018-05-09) Penric’s Fox Lois McMaster Bujold

!(2018-05-08) A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle. Honestly the quotes about Mrs. Who I saw on dreamwidth were the best part of the book. Not recommended. Maybe I would have enjoyed this as a little kid?

A concrete approach to Abstract Algebra W. W. Sawyer

The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (unfinished). I feel like I didn’t really get this book. Perhaps it was a translation issue, since I started with the Pevear and Volokhonsky(?) Penguin classics translation which is apparently very dry, and switched to the Mira Ginsberg one which did seem better. Oh well. Perhaps I’ll return to it another time.

Dodger Terry Pratchett.


!(2018-03-30) We Are Pirates Daniel Handler

!(2018-03-30) Nation Terry Pratchett (reread) (2022-03-04 Siderea’s wonderful essay on Watership Down has finally given me the concepts to understand what it is that I really really love about a cluster of books that includes Vorkosigan, Chalion, Watership Down, and now that I think about it, Nation)

!(2018-03-24) The Basic Eight Daniel Handler

Before March

Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass Jim Butcher

Ancilliary Justice Ann Leckie. Maybe it just seems colourless in comparison with the ‘candy-bright’ world of Terra Ignota. Perhaps I should give it a reread, given the number of people who seem to share my taste who loved it.

Seven Surrenders Ada Palmer One of my favourite memories of 4th semester is spending an entire day curled up on my beanbag, just blown away by this book.

Too Like The Lightning Ada Palmer. It started out frustrating, but I’m really really glad I struggled through.

Before 2018

The Dresden Files (books 1-15), Jim Butcher. There’s a very palpable jump in quality from book 1 to book 2 and again from book 3 to book 4. Might be interesting to compare and contrast to pick apart writing mechanics. 

Codex Alera (6 books), Jim Butcher. These were interesting enough while reading and kept me turning pages but seem to have left almost no impression on me.

The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee

Poldark (books 1-8), Winston Graham. Apparently Graham picked up the series again (around book 5?) about thirty years after the first few books were published. It’s quite surprising that this isn’t easily detectable. The books are set in the 17th century, and it’s very interesting to see what a difference to quality of life the surplus created by an industrial civilisation creates. I’ve been thinking a lot about the virtues of self-sufficient living these days (2020-08-31), but this kind of book reminds you that there are really enormous gains from specialization, economies of scale, and comparative advantage.